Gay fairy tales in Orange County; Wake’s economic ladder lacks rungs | Triangulator | Indy Week
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Gay fairy tales in Orange County; Wake’s economic ladder lacks rungs 

Once upon a time in a forest, close to the village of Efland, stood a cottage where two bears lived. They were not really "proper bears," but this being Orange County, most of the neighbors were very respectful to them, and people raised their hats when they went by.

But then the male bears, who taught elementary school, decided to read a fairy tale about acceptance and compassion to a third-grade class, and some of the neighbors were no longer nice. They told others in Orange County that they were mistaking tolerance for perversion, and wouldn't someone please think of the children? They raised a ruckus and quoted another fairy tale to defend their position: "I do not believe relationships as described in this book are biblically sound," one said.

The mean neighbors went to an all-school meeting, wherein they discussed the creeping danger of "the homosexual agenda." But when they realized that most parents did not mind the bears and their books, the mean neighbors fled the school, telling themselves, "Get away! Away from that school!"

One of the bears yelled after them, "Don't run away! Come back! I forgive you!"

And this is how it ended. From that day onward, the bears, who later married, got to read the book to generations of third-grade classes, who never saw what the big deal was in the first place. The haughty, rude neighbors did not change; they just became irrelevant.


"This is nothing more than bringing homosexuality into a school where it does not belong."


Lisa Baptist, a grandmother worried about Orange County schoolchildren acting out what they read in King & King, according to The News & Observer. The book, read by an openly gay teacher to his third-grade class, features two princes kissing on the last page.


Elsewhere on the tolerance-in-education front this week, meet Jerry Hough, an 80-year-old Duke political science prof with some very deep thoughts about the blacks. Over on ratemyprofessors.com, our man Jerry scored only one jalapeño for "hotness" (allowing for students with granddaddy issues, we suppose), but he's now in hot water for some, um, less than judicious online comments he made on a New York Times story. (Note to racists: The Internet is forever.)

Writing about the Baltimore riots, Hough noted that "the blacks" are lazier than "the Asians," and "Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration."

Who could possibly find that offensive?

For starters, the limp handshakes in Duke's front office, who abruptly elbowed Hough into a not-so-early retirement.

But as we learned from scanning his Rate My Professors page, Hough's students already knew he was what we charitably call a throwback (albeit an easy A if you could manage to stay awake in his class):

"Hough is interestingly out of date. His antiquated views are placed in a modern world. His class is like Groundhog Day, repeating itself endlessly with nothing interesting happening. ... He vocalizes some extremely strong prejudices so be careful."

"Like others have said, for the love of Allah, don't take this class."

Of course, every class has its brown nose: "This man is brilliant. Contributed greatly to my understanding of history and politics. He's something like Gore Vidal minus the drama, with even more intellect."

Being diligent journalists, we checked on the origin of "Jerry" to see if the professor is truly a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Jerry, we learned through hours of research, comes from Gerald, whose Germanic origins mean "spear." As in "Stick a spear in Jerry, he's toast."


Did you grow up poor in Wake County? Sucks to be you, dude.

A new report from a pair of Harvard economists, Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, came out earlier this month ranking the country's 100 largest counties in terms of income mobility—that is, a poor child's ability to climb the socioeconomic ladder throughout his or her lifetime. In, for example, DuPage County, a suburb of Chicago, poor kids fared rather well by the time they reached age 26, making about 15 percent more than poor kids born in an average county.

And where was Wake County on this list? Way down near the bottom, No. 88. Its poor kids earn 11.4 percent less than counterparts born in an average county, and the effect is much more pronounced for boys than girls.

A neat interactive feature on The New York Times' website—which we managed to read without leaving comments about the blacks, weird—spells it out: Wake is "among the worst counties in the U.S. in helping poor children up the income ladder." Better than only 6 percent of its peers, in fact.

Here's the thing, though: According to the Times, it's not just poor Wake kids, though they're hit the hardest. While the county's poorest children will earn $2,920 less than peers in an average county, average-income kids fell nearly as far behind. Even rich kids—including 1 percenters—seem to have the same fate, though the lag is less the wealthier you go.

Durham County, in case you're curious, is in the same boat. Chatham County does a hair better, but even there, the Times notes, "Every year a poor child spends in Chatham County subtracts about $50 from his or her annual household income at age 26, compared with a childhood spent in the average American county."

In other words, get out while you can.

Alternative plan: Stay here and make it better. Chetty and Hendren found five primary factors linked to income mobility; if we address them, our poor kids might stand a puncher's chance: less segregation by race and income, lower income inequality, less violent crime, better schools and more two-parent households.


Finally, from the Public Service Announcements desk: The city of Raleigh is about to update its bicycle plan, and would like your help.

The current plan, approved in 2009, has worked pretty well, says project manager Jason Myers. Back then the city had all of three streets with bike lanes. That's now up to 30 miles, a number that will "basically double" by the end of summer. The Greenway system has expanded, more people are using bicycles both for recreation and basic transportation, and a cycling culture has started to catch on.

But in the intervening years, there's also been a lot of experimentation by urban planners nationwide about the best ways to foster a healthy bike environment, knowledge the city would like to take advantage of. So it hired consultants and began surveying people at Artsplosure last weekend; you can comment on the project website, bikeraleigh.org/bikeplan.

The update won't be finished until year's end at the earliest. Myers imagines that the end result will seek to "turn a disconnected series of places to bike into a network," and that when it's over, "the type of cyclists using bike facilities will come closer to the average citizen."

Translation: If all goes well, you won't have to be a pro to get around Raleigh on two wheels.

Reach the INDY's Triangulator team at triangulator@indyweek.com.

  • Plus Duke University professor Jerry Hough’s problem with “the blacks,” comment on Raleigh bike plan

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